Photo: James Bombales

Rental vacancy rates across Canada plunged this year, as demand for rental units outpaced supply.

According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s (CMHC) 2017 Rental Market Survey, the national vacancy rate for purpose-built rental apartments fell from 3.7 to 3.0 per cent in 2017, the first decline in the last two years.

“Nationally, increased demand for purpose-built rental apartment units outpaced growth in supply,” CMHC senior market analyst Gustavo Durango said in a statement. “Demand can be attributed to historically high levels of positive net international migration, improving employment conditions for younger households and the on-going aging of the population.”

Here are 10 stats that put the falling rental vacancy rate into perspective.

1. The nationwide vacancy rate has decreased to 3 per cent, a 0.7 per cent drop from October 2016’s 3.7 per cent. “This reverses the increases observed in 2015 and 2016 and leaves the vacancy rate at its 10-year average,” writes the CMHC.

2. Toronto has one of the lowest purpose-built rental vacancy rates in the country, at 1 per cent. A rate of 3 to 4 per cent is considered healthy by the CMHC. Other cities with low rates include Kelowna at 0.2 per cent, Victoria (0.6 per cent), Vancouver (0.9 per cent) and Kingston (0.7 per cent).

3. While new rent control legislation was introduced in April with Ontario’s Fair Housing Plan, few steps have been taken to address the low rental vacancy rate in the Toronto market. According to a report commissioned by the Federation of Rental-housing Providers of Ontario, more than 1,000 planned purpose-built rental units have been converted to condos since the policy came into effect.

4. The highest vacancy rates can be found in the Canadian prairies, with Saskatoon at 9.6 per cent and Regina at 7 per cent.

5. Since October 2016, the number of purpose-built rental apartments in Canada increased by only 1.2 per cent. That’s roughly half of the growth rate from 2015 to 2016.

6. The largest rental price increases were led by BC — with increases of 8.6 per cent in Kelowna, 8.1 per cent in Victoria and 6.2 per cent in Vancouver — and Ontario, with increases of 5.9 per cent in Belleville, 5.2 per cent in Oshawa, 5.1 per cent in Hamilton and 4.2 per cent in Toronto.

7. The national monthly rent for a two-bedroom purpose-built rental apartment is $989, while in Toronto the average rent is $1,404 and in Vancouver it’s $1,552.

8. The lowest rents in the country are in Trois-Rivieres ($594), Saguenay ($605) and Sherbrooke ($631).

9. While vacancy rates were down, the national turnover rate stood at 20 per cent, largely unchanged from October 2016.

10. The national average rental condo vacancy rate fell from to 1.9 per cent in 2016 to 1.6 per cent in 2017. Victoria had the lowest rate at 0.2 per cent.

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